Kyle Franklin remembers the first time he realized there he might have a future in football after high school.
He was a freshman at IC Catholic, already putting up big numbers for a team that would wind up winning the Class 3A title.
The Knights were playing Riverside-Brookfield and Franklin took a handoff deep in his own territory. He scooted around the right side, looking for running room. Almost forced out of bounds, he seemed to lose his balance.
“Everyone on the sidelines thought I was down,” Franklin said.
But he wasn’t.
Just before his knee touched the ground. Franklin stuck out an arm to steady himself and then turned on the jets. Just like that, he was on his way to one of his 74 career rushing touchdowns.
“I thought to myself, ‘If I could do this at the varsity level as a freshman, what could I do at the college level?’”
Franklin, who has rushed for 4,809 yards in three seasons while helping the Knights win two state titles, will find out this fall at Indiana State.
One of the most prolific backs in state history, he made it official with the Sycamores on Wednesday when football’s second national signing period began.
Most local recruits signed letters of intent during the early period in December. But Franklin was more concerned about finding the right fit than following the crowd.
“My parents (and I) communicated we would be patient in these times,” he said. “Just waiting for the right school that had my best interests to achieve and go beyond. We believed the right school would find us.
“It was a little bit like a roller coaster.”
Indiana State wasn’t the first school to offer Franklin, but the Sycamores impressed him by keeping an open line of communication and talking about academics as well as football.
Franklin is glad to have another chance to convert the skeptics who have doubted him for years because of his size — currently 5-9 and 190 pounds.
“Ever since I was a kid, maybe I wasn’t the strongest, maybe I wasn’t the fastest,” he said. “Time and time again I’ve had to quiet the naysayers and stay humble.”
He takes comfort in seeing players like the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill and the Bears’ Tarik Cohen — 5-10 and 5-6, respectively — find success at football’s highest level.
“The NFL has changed over the years,” Franklin said. “You used to see only athletes 6-foot (and taller).”
In any case, Franklin is just focused on his final high school season. Practice starts March 3 and opening night for a six-week schedule is March 19.
He can’t wait.
“Just the opportunity to have a season, to grind it out for my guys — it’s a great thing to play that senior season.”
And maybe create some more highlight reels like that run against R-B four years ago.